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Car Imports: The Paper Trail


We had been living in Australia from 2008, but the global financial crisis had led to many mines being closed or sold in Australia, and many workers were being laid off. Sadly, it hit closer to home than expected.

Since Australia is an incredibly expensive country to live in, especially when you don’t have an income, we decided to move back to South Africa at the end of 2014.
When we’d arrived in Perth in 2008, we’d bought a 1997 Series 80 Land Cruiser and most of the paraphernalia needed to go bush. We had been on some amazing
trips in the Cruiser and we really loved the old girl. Thus, when we had to start packing our stuff to move back to South Africa, the logical question was, ‘What do we do with the Cruiser?’

The first challenge was to convince ourselves that it would be worth it to bring the vehicle over with us, and that it would actually cost less than to sell it there and
buy a similar vehicle here. Since a lot of aftermarket work had been done on the vehicle and we would not have to pay import duties on it because of its age, it worked out close to a break-even situation, and we decided to bring it.

Then the movers had to be convinced that it could be brought over, and they insisted that all the permissions from SA had to be obtained to allow the vehicle into
the country. That process started about four months before the actual shipping of the vehicle. The reason they were so particular was that they had encountered situations in which vehicles had been brought to SA, only to be destroyed on arrival or sent back at the owner’s cost because the necessary paperwork had not been in place, or because the vehicles were grey products.

The Cruiser also had to be de-registered in Oz, and that could only happen after the vehicle had been containerised. There were three important papers we
had to obtain from SA while in Australia, before the vehicle could be shipped. The first one was Form DA 185 which we had to fill in and submit to SARS, since the vehicle was being imported to South Africa,. The International Trade Administration Commission of South Africa (ITAC), had to be contacted, and they demanded
certified copies of ID documents, the vehicle’s original registration papers, proof of occupation in Australia, the date on which I’d left South Africa, the date on which I planned to return, and all the vehicle information – including its value in South African Rand.

ITAC was a pleasure to deal with. The contact person on the South African side was very helpful and efficient and our business was completed in three days. The certificate, called an Import Permit Notification (with gold-embossed seal and all) was delivered to a South African address within the week. A scanned copy was all that the
movers needed.